November 23, 2014

NO, IT FORCES DECENCY:

Like the Emancipation Proclamation, Obama's order forces democracy (BRUCE ACKERMAN, 11/22/14, LA Times)

Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation provides the foundational precedent for President Obama's executive order on immigrants in the country illegally.

Before Lincoln issued his pronouncement in September 1862, congressional majorities had expressly affirmed that the war effort only aimed "to preserve the Union" without "overthrowing ... established institutions" in the rebel states. The proclamation was an act of executive unilateralism, and as Obama has done in his order, Lincoln limited its scope in recognition of this fact. As a result, both proclamations serve only to initiate, rather than preempt, further democratic debate and decision.

Lincoln did not try to free any blacks in the four slave states that remained loyal to the Union. Nor did he even liberate slaves in the Southern areas under federal control. Instead, the proclamation only affected those areas that remained in active rebellion on New Year's Day 1863.

Even where it applied, it did not commit the country to unconditional emancipation. Lincoln acted only in the name of "military necessity," leaving it unclear whether Southern states could constitutionally reinstate slavery once the fighting came to an end. As the war wound down, many wanted to defer this issue for at least five years. But the proclamation prevented this evasion, forcing the question to the center of public attention.

They're both rather simple questions about what kind of people we want to be.
Posted by at November 23, 2014 10:17 AM
  

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